Definition: A material thing that can be seen or touched.
Also referenced as: Objective (adjective) Object of Discourse (noun) Objects (noun)
The word object was used 20 times across 16 pages
The most important thing I can teach you about information is that it isn't a thing. It's subjective, not objective. It's whatever a user interprets from the arrangement or sequence of things they encounter.
For example, imagine you're looking into a bakery case. There's one plate overflowing with oatmeal raisin cookies and another plate with a single double-chocolate chip cookie. Would you bet me a cookie that there used to be more double-chocolate chip cookies on that plate? Most people would take me up on this bet. Why? Because everything they already know tells them that there were probably more cookies on that plate.
The belief or non-belief that there were other cookies on that plate is the information each viewer interprets from the way the cookies were arranged. When we rearrange the cookies with the intent to change how people interpret them, we're architecting information.
When faced with a problem, you reference your mental model and try to organize the aspects and complexities of what you see into recognizable patterns. Your ongoing experience changes your mental model. This book is changing it right now.
As an example, it's much easier to teach someone about the inner-workings of a car engine with a picture, animation, diagram, or working model.
As you review each one, imagine the parts of your mess that could benefit from reframing.
A Venn diagram is useful for highlighting overlapping concepts or objects. The overlap, known to some as the hedgehog or the nut, represents how these things relate. In this example, both pizza and movie relate to Friday night at home.
This same technique can be used to sort things into sets based on how they're similar. For example, we might make a circle for movies we love and one for movies referencing pizza, and put the movies we love that reference pizza in the overlap.
These concepts don't necessarily live under an established hierarchy or sequence. For example, in the diagram above, I've outlined the various aspects of running a pizza parlor as the owner (me!) might think about them.
The power of a matrix diagram is that you can make the boxes collect whatever you want. Each box becomes a task to fulfill or a question to answer, whether you're alone or in a group.
After making a simple matrix of users, contexts, players, and channels, you'll have a guide to understanding the mess. By admitting your hopes and fears, you're uncovering the limits you're working within.
|Object: a specific thing.|
|Interface: a point where a user affects that thing.|
|Location: a particular place or position.|
|Journey: the steps in or between locations.|
|Structure: a configuration of objects and locations.|
|System: a set of structures working together.|
|Ecosystem: a collection of related systems.|
Once you know what level you're working at, you can zoom in to the appropriate level of detail. Sometimes we need to zoom all the way in on an object. Other times it's more important to zoom out to look at the ecosystem. Being able to zoom in and out as you work is the key to seeing how these levels affect one another.
When you're deep in the details, it's easy to forget your broad effect. When you're working overhead, it's easy to forget how your decisions affect things down on the ground. Making changes at one level without considering the affects they have on other levels can lead to friction and dissatisfaction between our users, our stakeholders, and us. One tiny change can spark a thousand disruptions.
For example, if we owned a restaurant and decided to eliminate paper napkins to be environmentally friendly, that would impact the entire restaurant, not just the table service our diners experience.
We'd need to consider other factors like where dirty napkins go, how we collect them, how often they're picked up and cleaned, how many napkins we need on hand between cleanings, and if we should use paper napkins if something spills in the dining room.
One tiny decision leads to another, and another.
Verbs represent the actions that can be taken.
A post (n.) can be: written, shared, deleted, or read.
It's easy to adopt terms that are already in use or to be lazy in choosing our language. But when you're deciding which words to use, it is important to consider the alternatives, perceptions, and associations around each term.
How would your work be different if "authors writing posts" was changed to "researchers authoring papers," or "followers submitting comments?"
A few taxonomies in this book:
As we move towards our goals, things change and new insights become available. Things always change when we begin to understand what we couldn't make sense of before. As a sensemaker, the most important skill you can learn is to adjust your course to accommodate new forces as you encounter them on your journey.
Don't seek finalization. Trying to make something that will never change can be super frustrating. Sure, it's work to move those boxes and arrows around as things change. But that is the work, not a reason to avoid making a plan. Taking in feedback from other people and continuously refining the pieces as well as the whole is what assures that something is "good."
Perfection isn't possible, but progress is.